While Enzo Siciliano died I was in front of him together with Arnaldo Colasanti. We were in the intensive care unit of the Villa Mafalda clinic in Rome. Enzo was bare-chested, completely at the mercy of the automatic breathing machine. The oxygen mask was attached to an instrument that turned its head from side to side with the dull vigor of mechanical devices. The sound of the breath was phony, a pneumatic hiss. In all respects it was the machine that breathed Enzo, not the other way around. And Arnaldo, there, at that moment, said something. In Sabaudia, he said, Pasolini and Moravia bought a two-family house, but they never had a family. What did that observation have to do with Enzo who was dying? Enzo had been very close friends with Pasolini and Moravia, all right, but he had a family, and apart from Bernardo who was hastily returning from the United States, his family – that is, Flaminia, his wife, and Francesco, the another son – he was there, in the anteroom, to receive friends who flocked to his bedside. What did Moravia and Pasolini’s two-family house have to do with it?
Now, as a good rule of thumb, I never underestimate things that have nothing to do with it. On the contrary, I think they are the most important. I think that the very absence of a connection with the context signals them as urgent and indispensable – be it gestures, graphic signs, written sentences or expressed thoughts. Instead of getting lost in the labyrinthine path that those things have traveled in the mind of those who made them, I tend to focus on their flowering in front of me and on the impact that this flowering produces. Therefore I have never asked myself – nor have I ever asked him – why Arnaldo said that thing at that moment; and yet, perhaps for this very reason, I never stopped thinking about it. It can be said that not a day has passed since then – it was June 9, 2006 – without my having thought of that sentence: In Sabaudia, Pasolini and Moravia bought a two-family house, but they never had a family.
We all know how Moravia and Pasolini died: one alone, naked, in the bathroom at home, in Rome, and the other massacred at the Idroscalo in Ostia. There was no one there, as they died, looking at them and saying things that had nothing to do with it. As different as they are, they are two identical deaths – two deaths of those who had no family. But this is death, and you only die once, and how you die can also be the result of chance. What really matters is life – and it is precisely by thinking about their lives that Arnaldo’s phrase is charged with all its oxyhydrogen, stinging tenderness.
I’ve never met Pasolini, n known, n frequented. I really didn’t have time, even if fate, ten years after his death, led me to live among his things, to sleep in his bed and to write an entire novel with his Letter 22. When they killed him I was the age of Gennariello, the imaginary boy to whom he wrote a letter a week through the Corriere della Sera from 6 March to 5 June of his last year of life, 1975. But also identifying myself with this little boy, also considering what it was not, and what Pasolini had written to me those letters, not even for a moment crossed my mind that there could be between us, sublimated, translated, aberrated, a father-son relationship. It is impossible to feel like Pasolini’s children, because he didn’t want to be anyone’s father, because he didn’t want children. And without fathers or children there can be no family.
Moravia, on the other hand, I met him, met him and attended him. Little, in fact, much less than I wanted and could have, because unfortunately it intimidated me. I could have attended him much more because for the last two years of his life I was the editorial secretary of Nuovi Argomenti (he had called me his Enzo Siciliano), the magazine he had founded together with Alberto Carocci in 1953 and which continued to lead until death. We often spoke on the phone, not without difficulty given his notorious deafness, and I knew that he did not write in the afternoon, that he was bored, and that therefore I could well have visited him and spent as much time with him as I wanted – but , in fact, I was in awe of him, and our relations have suffered. However, I have wondered several times if I could ever repeat him as the child of Misery and nobility: Moravia mi father to me. I would have liked, I would have liked to look like him, and awe, after all, a plausible feeling towards a father you admire. But apart from the fact that, by birth, one should have spoken of a grandfather rather than a father (he was from 1907, and my grandfather from 1904), not even using the most flexible definitions of Father Moravia could he be defined as such, of me as of anyone. . Compared to Pasolini, his refusal was less ideological and even less painful, more natural: like someone who does not sing simply because he is out of tune. And from what little I have known directly about him, in the little that I have taken advantage of the opportunities I have had to attend him, I have drawn this conviction: Moravia did not even know what it was, to be a father. He was, it was said, my grandfather’s age, and he treated me as if we were the same age. Once he told me through a whole dinner how deep and full of adolescent torment his love for his wife was. Another time, having heard me mention it, he asked me to explain to him exactly how the Cross Method worked with which, in the pre-computer age, the resistance of joints in reinforced concrete structures was calculated by hand (and while I was there I explained, I was amazed and scandalized together, because it was not possible for once in a while that I had overcome my awe and found myself spending time with him instead of talking about literature, New Topics, the novel I was writing, the same explaining one of the most boring things in construction science). For the record, he was interested in that method because it was based on the concept of reiteration, that is, repetition, which was also the basis of his poetics, so much so that the novel he was about to publish (the last published in life), which at the end had as its title Traveling to Rome, was originally to be called precisely The repetitions.
Monday 12 July, at 9 pm, in Milan at the No’hma Theater, La Milanesiana, conceived and directed by Elisabetta Sgarbi, dedicates the evening to Moravia 30 years after Leopard woman (Bompiani, 1991, posthumously). To open a reading by Sandro Veronesi on the subject mentioned in these pages. Follow the show produced by Teatro di Dioniso-Teatro Stabile del Veneto The leopard woman. Opera Concept, with Michela Cescon, Paolo Sassanelli, Lorenzo Pavolini. Info: nohma.org
July 10, 2021 (change July 10, 2021 | 21:23)
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